Late last year, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful
(KPB) launched a series of what Executive Director Michelle Feldman calls "Litter Convenings." They offer a platform for city agencies and residents to come together to tackle the problems of trash and littering in integrated and transparent ways.
The first session took place in October 2015; consortium members included the Commerce Department
, the Streets Department
, the Philadelphia Association of CDCs
and the Philly chapter of the Local Initiative Support Coalition
(LISC). There was a follow-up session
in January, and on May 11, KPB organized a panel discussion featuring leaders from the Streets Department’s Philly SWEEP
, the City’s Community Life Improvement Programs
(CLIP), the Department of Licenses and Inspections
, the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee
(PMBC) and Philly 311
Attendees represented groups and agencies such as the Office of Sustainability, the Village of Arts and Humanities, the Friends of Pennypack Park, the Commerce Department, South of South Neighborhood Association, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), LISC, the North 22nd Street Business Association, and Councilman William Greenlee’s office. Feldman framed the discussion as a chance to be "proactive rather than reactive" to issues of illegal dumping and trash in Philly.
The lively conversation on the 16th floor of the Municipal Services Building included an update on the City’s growing success in removing unlicensed clothing donation bins, which often become a magnet for illegal dumping. These bins can gain permits for placement on commercially zoned private property, but not on public right-of-ways like sidewalks and street corners, where they routinely reside. After a call to 311, L&I may note and tag the offending bins, but it’s the Streets Department that performs the removal.
Participants also discussed efforts to make Philly 311 -- the city’s non-emergency reporting line for civic issues like graffiti, overgrown vacant lots, illegal dumping and litter -- more accessible to the public through a mobile application and better integration of services with agencies who handle 311 tips.
Misunderstandings can arise when Philly 311 reports a case as closed when the issue has not visibly been resolved. This is because the agency can’t report publicly on outcomes like fines, and other agencies (from PWD to the Streets Department) open their own case file on the issue once they receive it, separate from the Philly 311 report.
Updates from CLIP included graffiti removal efforts and a community service program that employs non-violent ex-offenders on city cleanups. PMBC reported on its active work with up to 800 block captains from across the city. The organization provides supplies for cleanups and sponsors clean block contests with prizes ranging from $300 to $1,000 dollars to be used for further beautification of the block.
In KPB news, applications
for the organization’s 2016 microgrants are due on May 27; they include two $,1500 grants and two $1,000 grants (guidelines available here
). And on June 22, KPB will team with Young Involved Philadelphia
for a Cleaning + Greening 101
panel at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Keep Philadelphia Beautiful Litter Convening speakers